Centre for Philosophy of Religion Annual One Day Conference: The Future for Philosophy of Religion?

June 15, 2013 @ 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
The Loyola Hall, Heythrop College
Heythrop College
London, Greater London W8
Free (University of London students), £5 (students), £20 (standard)
Centre for Philosophy and Religion

The Future for Philosophy of Religion? An exploration of recent ‘turns to the human’ in thinking about religion.

The past decade has been marked by significant shifts in the in the Philosophy of Religion. A discipline long characterised by close analysis of a limited number of topics, and focusing mainly on arguments for and against traditional theistic belief, has broken new ground, both in its subject matter and its methodology. Much work by contemporary philosophers of religion has taken on an increasingly ‘humanistic’ shape: to supplement abstract argument and analysis there has been an increasing interest in religion as a response to the problems of lived human experience. This interest has manifested itself in a focus on the relation between religious belief and moral and aesthetic experience; the role played by religion in the struggle for self-awareness and psychological maturity; the contributions to religious awareness made by the emotions, the body, and the disciplines of spiritual praxis; and the way in which a deeper engagement with poetic and literary resources may develop and deepen religious sensibility and also enhance our understanding of the religious outlook itself.

Among the possible themes to be addressed by the Conference are the following:

1. Criteria for evaluating a religious outlook. Is a religious outlook to be assessed in terms of the intellectual plausibility of the claims it purports to make about the origins or workings of the cosmos, or should it be understood instead as an attempt to articulate an appropriate emotional and moral response to the puzzle of the meaning of human life and the how it should be lived?

2. Methodology. What is the appropriate mode for religious philosophizing? Should the philosopher of religion aim at detached intellectual scrutiny of certain truth claims, in the manner of a scientist, or is religious truth a domain that is more fruitfully investigated from a standpoint of emotional and moral commitment?

3. Theoretical implications. Does the ‘humane turn’ in philosophy of religion lead to, or lend support to, so-called ‘noncognitivism’ about religious claims (the view that religious assertions are not really descriptions of states of affairs but express passionate commitments to a certain form of life); or does it need to preserve a cognitive core of essential truth-claims?

4. Theological and anthropological dimensions. Should theology operate primarily at the level of abstract metaphysical doctrine, or does it need to do more to accommodate the perspective of the human subject, and an examination of the nature of what the religious life means for those who are actually involved in the practice of religion, or belong to its institutions?

Speakers: John Cottingham (analytic philosophy); William Schweiker (theological ethics and hermeneutics); Mark Wynn (philosophy/theology and the emotions); Christopher Hamilton (philosophy and literature).

Please see website for additional details.

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